“Dexter” viewers everywhere tuned in last night, surely as breathless with anticipation as I was, waiting to see if the last episode in the best season yet would live up the enormous expectations placed before it. And it delivered. By the end of the episode, all anticipation was gone and instead I was knocked breathless by shock and heartache.
In this season, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) has experienced a lot of personal growth. He has discovered that, despite his apparitional father Harry’s (James Remar) accusations, he can balance his dark passenger with having a family. And not only can he have that family — he is capable of developing personal, loving bonds with them as well.
This episode reveals that the opposite is also true. Rita (Julie Benz), Dexter’s wife, tells him that he is the glue that holds their family together. His sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) also shares with him that he’s been the only person she could depend on for most of her life. Dexter thinks that the answer to the question he asked in the first episode (“Can I really have it all?”) is a resounding yes.
The beginning of the episode finds Dexter in a stare-off with Trinity (the ingenious John Lithgow) who has just uncovered his true identity. In a scramble to end Trinity’s life, Dexter makes hasty decisions and ends up in jail with no Trinity and no way to protect his family. Harry gets into Dexter’s face in his jail cell, repeating his mantra: you can’t have a family and be a serial killer. Little does Harry know how true his words are.
While Dex is on his manhunt, Deb uncovers the fact that he is related to her ex-fiance and Ice Truck Killer, Brian Moser (Christian Carmago). Never mind the fact that she shouldn’t be doing any work since earlier that day she was witness to Christine’s suicide. The audience can feel Dex getting more uncomfortable as his nosy sister discovers more and more about his dark past — and his dark passenger.
The only somewhat rushed sequence of events happens in the police precinct. In a matter of moments, Batista discovers that their suspected Trinity Killer, Stan Beaudry, doesn’t match the Trinity profile, that Four Hands, Arthur’s charity, is linked to the murders and before you know it, they’re after the right guy for once. You could practically hear LaGuerta yelling out over the megaphone, “Let’s hurry it up, people! This is the last episode!”
During the last half of this tense episode, the writers could have taken the plot any direction. The audience begins to believe that the ending they hate might be the one the writers choose — to watch Trinity pack his bags and drive off into the sunset. There’s no blaming the writers for wanting to prolong the life of one of the shows most interesting characters.
But I screamed with delight as my favorite Dexter Morgan (the badass with a hypodermic needle) hopped out of Arthur Mitchell’s trunk and put him down for the last time. Further fist-pumping ensued as Trinity got strapped to Dexter’s table, surrounded by more photos than any other killer before him. I sighed a season’s worth of relief as Dexter took to Trinity with his own weapon of choice — a framing hammer.
I nervously checked my DVR timeline as Dexter returned home. Yes, only three minutes left. Surely this was the end. Not enough time for anything significant to happen. Dexter would fly out the next morning and end the season in the Keys, sunbathing next to Rita.
But as it turns out, there was just enough time left for something else. Something big.
Dexter is at home, perusing his family photos in the dark when a voicemail notification from his phone interrupts his inner monologue. Rita tells him, via voicemail, that she left something at home and would catch a later flight to the Keys. Cue Dexter’s infant son Harrison’s cries echoing from the bathroom.
Trinity murdered Rita. Dexter finds Harrison crying in a pool of his mother’s blood, just as Harry found Dexter as a child. Rita is lying dead in the bathtub, her femoral artery severed. Dexter had several opportunities to kill Trinity, but he waited too long, and this is his punishment. For once, Harry doesn’t pop in to say I told you so. Dexter scoops up his son and races out of the bathroom.
So now that we’ve talked about what just happened, it’s time to talk about what might happen next.
Rita’s death has prolonged the life of the series by at least one or two more seasons. Though we hate to see her go, Rita’s death will send Dexter on another emotional journey that won’t be resolved soon. Just as Harry predicted, his family’s proximity to his dangerous lifestyle has had its consequences.
So will he keep the kids? If Rita’s death has served to teach him anything it’s that Aster, Cody and Harrison are anything but safe with him around. But is he strong enough to remove the few things in his left in his life that he truly loves?
And there is no doubt that Dexter’s dark passenger will still have its demands. What will Dexter do with his desire to kill when he has three kids to raise? Maybe he’ll take a leave of absence from work (understandably) to recuperate…and also so he’ll have some “time to kill.”
Perhaps Deb will move in to help with the kids. After all, Dexter was right there for her when the whole Ice Truck Killer thing went down. But Dexter will have a harder time hiding his dark passenger from his astutely observant sister in such close quarters.
Whatever happens, it’s undeniable that Dexter will be irreversibly altered from now on. Will he lose faith in himself and his ability to be good in spite of his bad deeds? Will he become disenfranchised with Harry’s code, now that it’s proven to allow such heartbreak into his life?
And other questions — will Dexter find someone new? How will he raise three kids without their mother? I guess we’ll just have to wait until next season, and watch lots of “LOST” and “American Idol” in the meantime.